CLAYMONT – When Archmere met St. Elizabeth Tuesday night in volleyball, there was not a thread of Auks green or Vikings maroon on the court. Instead, the Archmere gym was a sea of pink, as the teams competed in the seventh annual Serve for a Cure, benefiting the Helen F. Graham Cancer Center.
The Auks rolled to a 3-0 victory (25-15, 25-11 and 25-13) behind a strong defense and an offense that overpowered St. Elizabeth.
Fans of both teams filled the gym with pink T-shirts that served as the admission ticket. Cancer survivors received carnations from players before the game. The Auks took the floor in black shirts with pink numbers, the Vikings pink with black numbers. Coach Danielle Smulski of St. Elizabeth had pink streaks in her hair, while Archmere's Mary Pat Kwoka's normally blond locks were a solid bright pink. Kwoka promised to dye her hair if students raised at least $500 for the Graham Center by game day. Mission accomplished.
Even the ball was pink and white.
Archmere left little doubt that, despite the festive atmosphere, it was not about to overlook the Vikings. The Auks jumped out to a 10-3 lead in the first game. They were up by 11 at 21-10 after a kill by Madeline Kelly, followed by an Anna Baxter ace, and held that advantage at 23-12 until St. Elizabeth ran off three straight. On set point, however, an attempted dig by St. E went out of bounds, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead.
Archmere used another fast start in the second game to take a 6-0 lead, the last point coming on a kill by Justine Pantaleo. The Vikings played good defense during the streak, twice digging kill attempts on over-digs, but they were unable to put the ball away. Holding that same advantage at 9-3, the Auks scored five straight. Later in the set, Kelly scored on three straight aces to make the score 18-7. Another ace, this one by Sarah Donnelly, ended the set.
St. Elizabeth hung a bit closer in the third set, trailing just 10-8 midway through. But Archmere was just too tough, eventually pulling away. A play that may have captured the type of match it was occurred late in the set, when Vikings libero Casey Corradin attempted to get to a ball, but she stepped out of her right shoe and stumbled, and the ball fell to the floor. Two of the final three points for the Auks, including the match-ender, came on aces by Kaylie Leclerc.
Kelly led the Auks with seven kills and added four aces, while Leclerc had five aces. For the Vikings, Sabrina Hackendorn finished with six aces and a match-high 14 digs.
The Vikings (4-5) have no time to rest, hosting top-ranked Padua Wednesday night at 6:45 p.m., while Archmere (6-3) welcomes third-ranked Charter School to the Moglia Fieldhouse Friday at 6:15 p.m.